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Bristol Speedway to unveil plan for Vols vs Hokies
After all that talking, the rumors and speculation, it’s finally going to happen.
The announcement is planned for Monday at the 52-year-old racetrack that sits about halfway between the campuses of the two schools, off Interstate 81 in northeast Tennessee.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer and Tennessee coach Butch Jones are expected to attend, along with track and school officials.
Hokies vs. Volunteers at BMS first came up in the late 1990s, then again when the track underwent major renovations in 2005. The conversations got serious between the track and school officials last year.
The speedway can hold about 160,000, and organizers are hoping to break an attendance record.
The NCAA-recognized attendance record for college football is 115,109, set last month at Michigan Stadium for Michigan-Notre Dame. The NCAA record book does note that in the late 1920s, Notre Dame played two games at Soldier Field in Chicago in front of crowds estimated at 120,000
But things have changed in recent years. Power conference schools such as Tennessee from the Southeastern Conference and Virginia Tech from the Atlantic Coast Conference are now more willing to bolster their schedules with potentially tough opponents and they are more willing to play neutral site games that can pay big bucks and land prime television spots.
“I think the landscape from college scheduling worked,” Caldwell said.
To accommodate a football field, the speedway will need modifications, some of which will happen as soon as next year, Caldwell said.
A massive video board that sits atop a pylon in the middle of the infield will be taken out, Caldwell said.
“Screens will be added inside the facility so everyone can still see everything,” he said.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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